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Surgeon who arrived in UK more than 30 years ago retires from Walsall trust

When Gunther Selzer arrived in the UK more than 30 years ago he vividly remembers being weighed down by bags as he juggled his possessions and headed towards the start of his medical career.

Gunther Selzer, pictured centre, wearing a red tie and holding his travel bag with his colleagues
Gunther Selzer, pictured centre, wearing a red tie and holding his travel bag with his colleagues

And fittingly, when he retired from Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust last week, he was presented with a leather, monogrammed travel bag, to help him enjoy some downtime at the end of all of his years’ service.

Mr Selzer, who is a consultant orthopaedic surgeon in trauma and orthopaedics, left Bremen in Germany in 1991, travelling on the overnight ferry from Hamburg to Harwich.

“I had just finished medical school and had seen in a publication that doctors were needed in the UK,” he said.

“I packed up all my possessions to travel and was weighed down by all my bags – taking a few steps forward and having to keep stopping to rearrange all my luggage which was literally hanging off me. I probably looked quite a sight.

“I had arranged to be met off the ferry and started work as a house officer in Guildford, the equivalent of a junior doctor now, and took on general surgical roles.

"Back then it was the norm to change jobs every six months and I moved around south London a lot but also worked in Cambridge and Norwich before getting a rotation in Birmingham where I worked in Orthopaedics.”

Mr Selzer left Birmingham for Walsall in 2006 where he has stayed ever since and is “incredibly proud” of how the specialty has progressed over the years.

“A few years after I arrived the new part of the hospital was completed which was a significant improvement and, more recently, I have been pleased to see the opening of our new Urgent and Emergency Care Centre,” he said.

“We have close to 10 consultants in trauma and orthopaedics now, and I am incredibly proud of how we have developed as a team and as a department. After years of lobbying I managed to get a refurbishment to two brand new orthopaedic theatres.

“We introduced robot arm-assisted surgery earlier this year for hip and knee replacement patients and are the first district general hospital in the country to do so – another innovation that makes me proud.”

Will Goude, clinical director for trauma and orthopaedics, gave a speech at Mr Selzer’s retirement get together.

He said: “The department is very different now and you do leave us in a much better place.

“Thank you for all your years of support, we will miss you.”

As well as his new bag Mr Selzer, who is married to Adriana, a GP, and has a daughter Alexia studying at university, received an engraved Caran d’ache pen and travel voucher from his colleagues.

“I’m not going to stop working completely and will continue seeing NHS and private patients at Little Aston Hospital,” he said.

“But I am looking forward to seeing where my new bag takes me.”

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